The Athletics haven’t had much success at the latest incarnation of Yankee Stadium. Since the building opened in 2009, the reigning AL West champs have won just five of 19 games in the Bronx, winning just one of six total series. Oakland will be The House The Boss Built for three games this weekend.
What Have They Done Lately?
Although they lost their last game, the A’s just took two of three from the division rival Angels. They had lost three straight series before that, all against AL East opponents. Oakland won 12 of their first 16 games, but they’ve since dropped nine of their last 13 games. All the winning stopped as soon as they had to play teams other than the Mariners and Astros. Funny how that works. The Athletics are 16-13 with a +20 run differential, good for second place in the AL West.
Manager Doug Melvin’s squad is the highest scoring team in baseball, with a 5.59 runs per game average and 112 wRC+. Those are the best and third best marks in baseball, respectively. CF Coco Crisp (156 wRC+) is on the DL with a hamstring problem while CF Chris Young (81 wRC+) is day-to-day with a quad problem. He only plays against lefties anyway. SS Hiroki Nakajima and 2B Scott Sizemore are on the DL and have not played at all this year. You won’t see them this weekend.
With Crisp and Young out, OF Yoenis Cespedes (118 wRC+) will man center field. He just came off the DL himself after dealing some hand issues. SS Jed Lowrie (158 wRC+) and 1B Brandon Moss (142 wRC+) give Cespedes some support in the middle of the lineup while 3B Josh Donaldson (146 wRC+) and LF/DH Seth Smith (141 wRC+) help from further down in the order. The A’s also have an insanely productive catching platoon featuring lefty John Jaso (100 wRC+) and righty Derek Norris (121 wRC+). So jealous.
RF Josh Reddick (45 wRC+) usually sits against lefties, but he’s been forced into the lineup everyday due to the Crisp and Young injuries. Right-handed hitting 1B Nate Freiman (70 wRC+) will get into the lineup against southpaws. IF Eric Sogard (73 wRC+) and UTIL Adam Rosales (120 wRC+ in limited time) join third C Luke Montz (98 wRC+) on the bench. Montz has just four plate appearances this year. The A’s lead the big leagues in stolen bases (25), though most of that is Crisp and Young. They’re middle of the pack with 28 homers. Oaktown can score some runs.
Starting Pitching Matchups
Friday: LHP CC Sabathia vs. RHP A.J. Griffin
Griffin, 25, had a nice half-season (3.06 ERA and 3.85 FIP) last year, but things haven’t gone as well early in his sophomore campaign (4.65 ERA and 4.70 FIP). He doesn’t miss many bats (6.68 K/9 and 17.4 K%) and is one of the most extreme fly ball pitchers in baseball (28.1% grounders), but he does limit walks (2.90 ERA and 7.6 BB%). That’s always a plus. Griffin throws four pitches but is basically a three-pitch pitcher. His upper-80s four-seam fastball sets up a low-80s changeup and a hilarious upper-60s curveball. Here, look at that thing. Griffin throws a mid-80s slider but very rarely, like once or twice a game. The Yankees saw him twice last year, pounding him once (four runs in 4.1 innings) and getting shut down the other time (two runs in six innings).
Saturday: RHP Phil Hughes vs. RHP Bartolo Colon
It’s been a pretty crazy three years for the 39-year-old Colon, who went from off the radar to Yankees reclamation project to Athletics scrap heap pickup to busted for performance-enhancing drugs. He’s pitched to a 3.38 ERA (2.68 FIP) in 32 innings across five starts since returning from his 50-game suspension a few weeks ago. Colon is a strike-throwing machine (0.28 BB/9 and 0.8 BB%), but his strikeout (5.63 K/9 and 16.1 K%) and ground ball (40.8%) rates have slipped a bit from when he was in New York. Low-90s four-seamers and upper-80s two-seamers are still his weapon of choice, as he’ll throw his low-80s sliders and changeups less than 10% of the time combined. Surely you remember him pumping fastball after fastball two years ago. The Yankees saw Colon twice last year and handled him well both times, scoring ten runs in 12.2 total innings.
Sunday: LHP Andy Pettitte vs. RHP Dan Straily
This is Brett Anderson’s spot, but the Athletics had to put the left-hander on the DL with an ankle problem last week. The 24-year-old Straily is taking his place, having made two previous starts this year. Between this year and last, he owns a career 4.44 ERA (5.66 FIP) with 8.70 K/9 (22.3 K%), 3.02 BB/9 (7.7 BB%), and a 30.9% ground ball rate in 50.2 innings across nine starts. Straily is primarily a two-pitch guy, using upper-80s/low-90s fastball and low-80s sliders just about 90% of the time. Low-80s changeups are his third offering. The Yankees did not face Straily at all last year, so they’re going in blind.
Both teams were off on Thursday, so their bullpens are as fresh as can be this time of the year. The Yankees will replace the injured Joba Chamberlain (oblique) with right-hander Preston Claiborne prior to tonight’s game, plus David Robertson is day-to-day with a hamstring issue as well. Check out our Bullpen Workload page for recent reliever usage details.
As for the Athletics, Melvin had a dynamite late-game trio at his disposal with LHP Scott Doolittle (4.00 FIP) and RHP Ryan Cook (2.24 FIP) setting up closer RHP Grant Balfour (4.78 FIP). RHP Evan Scribner (4.98 FIP) is the de factor long man while RHP Chris Resop (4.68 FIP) is the general middle innings guy. RHP Pat Neshek (4.73 FIP) and LHP Jerry Blevins (2.05 FIP) are the matchup specialists. It’s a solid and deep bullpen, no doubt. My A’s blogs of choice are Athletics Nation and Beane Ball.
Six questions this week. Use the Submit A Tip box to send us anything throughout the week, mailbag questions or otherwise.
Several people asked: What about Shelley Duncan?
The Yankees are looking for a right-handed bat and the Rays designated former Yankee Shelley Duncan for assignment earlier this week, so this seems like a natural fit. The 33-year-old forearm-smasher hit just .182/.297/.309 (75 wRC+) in 64 plate appearances for Tampa, and during his three years with the Indians (2010-2012) he put up a .231/.309/.430 (103 wRC+) overall line in 770 plate appearances. That includes a .239/.316/.421 (102 wRC+) line against southpaws, meaning he didn’t have a platoon split.
Duncan is a three true outcome type, with healthy power (career .193 ISO), walk (9.7%), and strikeout (24.4%) rates. He doesn’t do much other than that, meaning he won’t steal any bases or play even average defense in left or at first base. Is he better than Ben Francisco? Yeah, probably, but it’s not slam dunk. If the Yankees can pluck him off waivers, then go for it. Francisco’s been terrible. I wouldn’t go out of my way to acquire Shelley or sweat missing out on him, though.
Nick asks: Given his start, how likely is it the Vernon Wells matches/exceeds Nick Swisher‘s performance this year? If he does (or gets close), should we credit the front office with a brilliant move or did the Yanks just get lucky?
I don’t think that will happen, honestly. Even with the hot start, Wells is on a .298/.362/.532 (139 wRC+) line while Swisher is at .265/.386/.410 (123 wRC+). There’s a nice gap there, but Swisher is underperforming his career norms while Wells is far exceeding his. They’ll wind up meeting in the middle at some point. I expect Verndog to wind up closer to his updated ZiPS projection (113 wRC+) than his current numbers.
Brian Cashman basically admitted the Yankees got lucky with Wells a few weeks ago, saying “there was no magic, unearthed data point” they uncovered. They expected him to fill the Andruw Jones role according to the GM. Maybe Cashman’s just playing coy, but Wells has been so outrageously good that I can’t imagine anyone saw this coming. It’s 95th percentile stuff.
Mark asks: Are you surprised by Jose Tabata’s free fall in Pittsburgh since his debut season in 2010 at the young age of 21? Maybe I’m off base here, but I have to think he’d be a prime candidate to replace Curtis Granderson next year as I suspect the Yanks would have kept him in the minors to develop and mature his game — something he hasn’t had the opportunity to do in Pittsburgh playing in the big leagues.
Not really, you can never be truly surprised when a prospect fails. Tabata was never the same caliber of hitter/prospect as say, Jesus Montero, plus he is apparently older than originally believed. He never showed much power for a corner outfielder and that’s continued to this day.
The Yankees value makeup too highly to bring Tabata back. He had (at least) two incidents in the minors that led to his trade in the first place, plus he’s had off-field issues with the Pirates. The guy’s a .269/.335/.369 (97 wRC+) career hitter in over 1,300 plate appearances, plus he’s probably closer to 30 than his listed age of 24. Tabata can get the bat on the ball — career 14.8 K% and 82.8% contact rate — that’s always been his thing, but otherwise there’s not much to see here.
Dustin asks: Any chance the Yankees could pry Justin Ruggiano from the Marlins?
Oh I’m sure of it. No reason to think the Marlins wouldn’t move him for the right offer. Ruggiano, 31, had an insane BABIP-fueled (.401!) half-season with Miami last year, when he hit .313/.374/.535 (146 wRC+) in 320 plate appearances. He’s back down to .239/.300/.402 (95 wRC+) this year, which is right in line with his career norms.
As a right-handed hitting outfielder, Ruggiano owns a career .263/.328/.516 (128 wRC+) line in 236 plate appearances against southpaws. That’s spread across seven seasons, so it isn’t very useful. Ruggiano plays okay defense in the outfield corners and will steal a bag here and there, so he’s definitely someone worth looking into as a Francisco replacement. I don’t know what it would take to acquire him, but Scott Hairston was traded to the Athletics for a middling Triple-A relief prospect (Ryan Webb) following his breakout with the Padres. Seems like decent framework, no?
Jonathan asks: What do you think about possibly acquiring one of Atlanta’s catchers this year? It’s a strange situation because we don’t know if Evan Gattis is for real, Gerald Laird was awful for years and Brian McCann is coming off the surgery. Which, if any would you be interested in acquiring and what do you think it would take to get them. Thanks!
I wouldn’t touch Laird, the Yankees have enough backups as it is. That’s the easy part. Gattis is a great story — seriously, read this — and the 26-year-old has hit .253/308/.542 (132 wRC+) as McCann’s replacement early this year. The consensus is that he isn’t good enough defensively to be an everyday guy behind the plate.
McCann, 29, was arguably the best catcher in baseball for the better part of a decade (118 wRC+ from 2006-2012) before hurting his right shoulder and struggling last year (86 wRC+). He had offseason surgery and is due to return to the team soon, as in next week. That will likely send Gattis back to Triple-A, though I suppose they could finagle the roster and work out a way to keep all three, at least for the time being.
I love the idea of acquiring McCann for half-a-season — he’ll be a free agent this coming winter — even considering the risk following his surgery. He’s strong defensively and a left-handed bat with power and patience. The team would also get a few weeks to evaluate him firsthand before decided whether to pursue him after the season. The price would have to be reasonable though, maybe something along the lines of two pretty good but not great prospects (assuming a deal happens right at the deadline).
Alex asks: Under the rules of the 1992 expansion draft, which players would you protect on the Yankees roster? Subsequently, if you were then picking, which unprotected player would you take?
We do this question every so often and it’s always fun. The expansion draft rules are right here, but here’s the short version: each team can protect 15 total players, but players with no-trade clauses must be protected. Players who were free agents during the offseason and players drafted in the previous two drafts (so 2011 and 2012 for us) are not eligible for the draft. AL teams can protect an additional four players after each round. Here’s who I would protect, assuming the draft was held last November 17th (same date as 1992 draft)…
|No-Trade Clauses (4)||Protected Pitchers (5)||Protected Position Players (6)||Notable Unprotected|
|Alex Rodriguez||Phil Hughes||Robinson Cano||Boone Logan|
|Mark Teixeira||David Robertson||Brett Gardner||Joba Chamberlain|
|CC Sabathia||Ivan Nova||Curtis Granderson||Frankie Cervelli|
|Derek Jeter||David Phelps||Gary Sanchez||Eduardo Nunez|
|Michael Pineda||Mason Williams||Vidal Nuno|
|Tyler Austin||Slade Heathcott|
I think this is pretty self-explanatory, no? I was on the fence with Nunez because of the dearth of even decent middle infielders, but I opted to protect the third prospect (Austin) instead. The Yankees could probably trade him for a better infielder than Nunez anyway.
Hiroki Kuroda, Andy Pettitte, and Mariano Rivera would not be eligible for the draft since they were free agents last winter. Nunez, Nuno, Heathcott, and Warren would the four guys I would add after the first round, but a few of them would probably get plucked in the draft. Such is life. If was the expansion team picking from that lot of players, I’d take Heathcott first, no doubt about it. Warren and Nuno are useful pieces, but Heathcott has star potential and that’s what you’re looking for when you’re building a team from scratch.
Reader Mike Addonizio was at tonight’s Triple-A Scranton game, so he sent along some photos to check out. Brian McCann was rehabbing with Triple-A Gwinnett, so that’s him behind the plate in most of the pics. Otherwise, got some quick notes…
- UTIL Ronnie Mustelier was added to the Triple-A Scranton roster as expected. IF Kevin Mahoney was send back down to Double-A Trenton is a corresponding move.
- In today’s chat, Keith Law said RHP Jose Campos and RHP Rafael both have questions about their mechanics and could wind up dynamite relievers instead of starters. He said he’s spoken to a few scouts who said DePaula has “premium stuff.” The strikeout rate (15.72 K/9 and 41.9 K%) with Low-A Charleston backs that up.
- In case you missed it earlier, the Yankees are calling up RHP Preston Claiborne from Triple-A to replace the injured Joba Chamberlain.
Triple-A Scranton (4-1 win over Gwinnett)
- 2B David Adams: 0-4, 1 R, 1 K — first game at second base this year
- CF Melky Mesa: 2-4, 1 R, 1 3B, 1 RBI, 2 K — 37 strikeouts and four walks in 25 games … yuck
- LF Zoilo Almonte: 1-4
- 3B Ronnie Mustelier: 0-3, 1 R, 1 BB – first game of the year
- RF Addison Maruszak: 1-4, 1 R, 1 2B, 2 RBI, 2 K
- RHP Brett Marshall: 7 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 2 K, 9/5 GB/FB — 58 of 99 pitches were strikes (56%) … easily his best start of the year
- RHP Cody Eppley: 1.1 IP, zeroes, 3 K, 0/1 GB/FB – 13 of 18 pitches were strikes (72%)
According to Mark Montgomery and Rob Segedin, the Yankees will call-up right-hander Preston Claiborne to replace the injured Joba Chamberlain on Friday. They’ll need to make a 40-man roster move to accommodate him. I’m guessing Cody Eppley and Melky Mesa are most at risk of being designated for assignment.
Claiborne, 25, was the club’s 17th round pick in the 2010 draft. He pitched to a 3.48 ERA (1.55 FIP) in 10.1 Triple-A innings this year, striking out ten and walking one. He managed a 4.05 ERA (3.32 FIP) in 33.1 innings at the level last year. Claiborne is mostly a low-to-mid-90s fastball/mid-80s slider guy, and he’s done a good job of missing bats throughout his career (23.3 K%). He pitched very well in big league camp (one run in 10.2 innings), which probably moved him near the front of the call-up line. · (39) ·
Alex Rodriguez and his surgically repaired left hip have been cleared to begin baseball activities, Brian Cashman confirmed. He has been able to run at full speed and will head to Tampa to continue rehabbing on Monday.
A-Rod, 37, has surgery in early-January and started light running last month. Cashman stuck to the original timetable when asked about a return date, meaning they’re still not expecting him back until after the All-Star break. I’m of the “whatever they get out of him this year is gravy” mindset, they can’t count on him for anything in 2013, but it is good to hear he’s progressing. · (32) ·
The Yankees are off today and will welcome the Athletics to the Bronx for a three-game weekend series starting tomorrow — mid-homestand off-days are always weird, no? — so this is a good chance to get away from baseball for a night. I know that’s what I’ll be doing. The more I write about the game, the Yankees or just in general, the more I appreciate the time away.
Anyway, here is your open thread for the evening. The Mets are off, but MLB Network will air the Nationals and Braves (Haren vs. Medlen). The Nets and Rangers are both playing playoff games tonight, and if the Nets lose, they go home. Talk about those games or anything else here. Enjoy.
I wrote this today, and the video is too good not to share even if it has nothing to do with the Yankees.
During a conference call this afternoon, Brian Cashman confirmed rehabbing right-hander Michael Pineda showed mid-90s velocity during an Extended Spring Training game today. “He pitched at 93 and was up to 95,” said the GM. “A good physical day.”
Two important pieces of news here: One, Pineda is pitching in actual games. ExST doesn’t start his official 30-day rehab window, but it shows he’s graduated from live batting practice and simulated games to real live games. Two, holy crap velocity. Pineda is one year and one day out from shoulder surgery, and he’s showing similar heat to the 94.2 mph he averaged with the Mariners in 2011. Overwhelmingly good news even if his return is nowhere close to imminent. · (46) ·
David Robertson is day-to-day with “crankiness” in his left hamstring, Brian Cashman confirmed. He had an MRI today and it is not a DL situation.
Robertson, 28, limped off the field last night after apparently catching a spike during the follow through of his final pitch. He said afterwards he was fine, but the team send him for tests anyway. Robertson has pitched well this year (3.86 ERA, 3.54 FIP), and with Joba Chamberlain hitting the DL, the Yankees really can’t afford to lose their primary setup man. · (23) ·
3:38pm: Brian Cashman confirmed Joba suffered the injury warming up on Tuesday. He called it a “mild” strain, for what it’s worth. A decision has not been made about who will be called up, but it definitely will not be Clay Rapada or Chien-Ming Wang according to the GM. Rapada can be called back up to the big leagues starting tomorrow.
2:44pm: The Yankees have placed right-hander Joba Chamberlain on the 15-day DL with a right oblique strain, the team announced. The DL stint is retroactive to April 28th, so he is eligible to return in a week and four days. Obliques are tricky though, he could easily be out longer. David Robertson missed a month with an oblique issue last year, for example.
Joba, 27, warmed up on Tuesday but did not appear in the game, as our Bullpen Workload page shows. I guess that’s when it happened. He pitched in three straight games last weekend and there was no indication he was hurt. No word on who will take his place on the roster just yet, but Cody Eppley seems like a safe bet. Joba has pitched pretty well this year (3.86 ERA and 3.45 FIP), especially of late. Shawn Kelley seems likely to assume seventh inning duties along with Boone Logan. · (59) ·